From finding new boundaries to building your support network, here are my top tips on successfully preparing to go back to work after having a family.
Find the 'working you' again
Remember you are still the same talented and competent professional woman you were before you became a mother and you will quickly get back into the swing of things.
A good place to start re-building your ‘work-you’ confidence is by acknowledging the new skills you have developed whilst on maternity leave - creative problem solving, people skills, ability to multi-task and time management to name just a few - and practice how to articulate how they are directly applicable to work. And remember, you also have all the skills from the rest of your working life and education. Craft your story and be proud of it.
Dedicate time to plan your return to work
Set aside time in your day to plan your return to work and make progress on your things to-do list (updating your CV, reconnecting with old colleagues, giving your wardrobe a makeover...), even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. It takes on average 16 weeks to find a job so if you’re looking for something new, start this process well in advance of when you’d like to go back to work. Set benchmarks and goals during this period. What is it you would like to accomplish in month one, month two, etc.?
Find new boundaries
Everyone will have a different view of their personal boundaries, but it is important to define what yours are and communicate them clearly. Consider what you will realistically be able to handle when you go back to work, and start practicing saying ‘no’ to things that don’t fit into your new schedule.
Re-establish your professional network
Write a list of all the possible people you could get in touch with, including people from your past, your present and those you'd like to meet in the future. Starting with those who you find easiest to approach, set yourself a target of a number of calls to make, or emails to write, on a weekly basis. You can always increase your targets as your confidence builds. An essential tool for re-establishing your network will be LinkedIn so make sure your profile is up to date.
Refresh your industry knowledge
If you feel your knowledge and skills are a little rusty, consider enrolling in an update/ refresher course or signing up for a seminar or conference. Subscribe to professional journals, read related press and ask your former colleagues if you can meet for a coffee to talk about industry or sector developments. Volunteering is another great way to build up your competencies and increase your confidence.
Build your support network
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having a strong support team in place will reduce your overall stress levels and help you be a better mother and employee. Hire a cleaner to take some chores off your hands, and talk to your partner about sharing other household responsibilities. If you need to sort out childcare, start planning this well in advance. And don’t forget to take the holidays and emergency backup into account.
On maternity leave? Take a look at my range of Maternity Coaching programmes designed to help you prepare make a smooth and confident transition back to work, and figure out what to do once you get there.
Here on the blog we offer insights and tips that will empower you to create a career and life that works for you wherever you are in your parenting journey.